Choosing a primary school for your child - Tips for Singapore parents
Here are some important factors to consider when choosing a primary school for your child.
Your little one is growing up so fast, and is now almost ready for the next big phase in his journey of education and learning — primary school.
As parents with kids already in school know, choosing an appropriate primary school for your child is not easy and can actually be quite a stressful task for parents.
It's certainly not something you want to get wrong, as your child's primary school education paves the way for his further studies and beyond.
To make the decision of choosing a primary school for your child just a bit easier, we bring you some useful information on the matter.
1. Travel time and distance to school
A shorter distance from the school to your home means a shorter travelling time and reduced transport costs. A shorter travelling time is convenient in so many ways.
It means your child won't be tired by the time she gets to school, less stress for you because you won't be stuck in traffic for as long as if the school was a fair distance away, and you also get more time to attend to other matters.
Close proximity to the school of your choice also provides better opportunities for you to forge a strong relationship with the school.
Stronger ties with the school means better cooperation in raising and educating your child.
For a list of schools near (within 1 km and 1-to-2km) your residential address, visit the Singapore land authority’s One Map School Query Service.
Or click here to see the MoE'S listing of schools by area.
Find out more about choosing a primary school for your child on the next page...
2. Mother tongue languages
Find out from the school management if they offer Mother tongue language options.
Do note that:
- Chinese Language is offered in all schools;
- Malay Language is offered in all schools except Special Assistance Plan schools;
- Tamil Language is offered in most schools, but do confirm this with the school of your choice.
3. Your child's interests
While you, as an adult and parent, are obviously better qualified than your child to choose an appropriate school for her, do also consider your child’s non-academic interests like sports, performing arts, music and technology when choosing a primary school.
By the time your child is 6 years old, you will have an understanding of her interests.
Is she naturally interested in art and music, or does she love numbers and science? Try to focus on these interests as your child will automatically do well in something she is already interested in.
Schools in Singapore often hire and train staff for activities such as:
- Sports: Swimming, rugby, hockey, etc.
- Arts: Dance, choir
- Intellectual development: Chess, math olympiad
- Aesthetics: Music, calligraphy, cultural training
- Character development: Outdoor rugged activities
- Infocomm: Robotics, multimedia
- New teaching approaches such as human dynamics
Do remember to ask the school's manager about what they offer in terms of such activities.
4. Schools with special awards from the Ministry of Education (MoE)
The MoE evaluates and recognises schools for their efforts in improving themselves in terms of management and/or teaching techniques. If you'd like to know more about such schools, click here to see the top 21 schools ranked by awards given by the MoE.
5. The school's level of autonomy
These are schools fully funded by the Singapore Government. They strictly follow all the rules set out by the MoE.
These schools have a large portion of their funding from the Singapore government, while the remainder is supplemented from other private sources such as fund-raising activities.
Such schools maintain a certain level of autonomy over how they operate.
For example, they may choose to offer class sizes that are different from those recommended by the MoE. Some parents prefer these schools because of their flexibility.
6. The school's identity
Each school has its own special strengths which are worthwhile researching about before you make your decision. Learning about the school will enable you to find out about the following:
- School’s vision and mission
- Culture of the school
- Parent Support groups
More information on the next page...
7. Affiliated schools
Some primary schools (mostly those with religious/clan associations) have close ties with certain secondary schools, in the form of an affiliation.
If this is the case, your child can be given priority for admission to the secondary school affiliated to his/her primary school, provided he/she meets the school’s admission criteria, and he/she indicates the affiliated secondary school as his/her first choice.
8. Special assistance plan schools
Special Assistance Plan schools nurture in their students a deep understanding of the Chinese language, culture and heritage, and enable them to be effectively bilingual in both English and Chinese.
9. Special education schools
Special Education (SPED) schools provide an alternative education pathway for children with special educational needs who may find it difficult to benefit from mainstream education.
They provide customised educational and training programmes to cater to the diverse needs of children with special needs.
Since January 2012, the number of SPED schools run by Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs) has grown to 20. Click here for more details.
10. Single sex vs mixed (co-ed) schools
Some parents feel strongly about sending their child to either a single sex or co-ed school. Those in favour of single sex schools often believe that students can be treated uniformly across the entire school.
On the other hand, mixed schools have an advantage if parents have both male and female children. If this is the case, parents only need to go through Primary 1 registration just once for both kids, since both brothers and sisters can attend the same school.
Parents, if you need to know more about a particular school, you can visit the school's website, attend the school's open house or call the school.
Information on individual primary schools is also available in the School Information Services section on the MoE website.
Watch this MoE video for more information on choosing a primary school for your child.
Do let us know the factors you considered when choosing a primary school for your child — share this useful information by leaving a comment below!